We are proud to publish our 2022 Annual Report, representing hundreds of hours of work by volunteers to research, compile, and write-up the creative work of educators and curators around the world.
More than 175 museums and galleries participated in 2022 (plus many more that ran Slow Art Day sessions but did not register with us).
And we researched, wrote, and published reports from 54 of these museums and galleries, which is what you will find in this report.
So, read this and get inspired by what a wide range of museums and galleries did last year including The Wallace Collection in London, the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Frederiksberg Museum in Copenhagen, the Khaneko Museum in Kyiv, MIT’s List Visual Arts in Cambrige, MA, the Tarra Warra Museum of Art in Melbourne, and many, many others.
And please join me in thanking the volunteer team who worked tirelessly all year long to produce this report: Ashley, Jessica Jane, Johanna, and our newest member, Robin.
As I reflect on the last year in art, I must first acknowledge that we at Slow Art Day operate in a different world than our peers at auction houses, art festivals, magazines, and large “money center” museums.
In that world, Christie’s just reported that it sold $8.4 billion in art in 2022 up 17% from 2021. Sotheby’s sold $7.7 billion, while Phillips sold $1.3 billion up from $1.2 billion the year before.
So the big three auction houses together moved $17.4 billion in art.
This is not the world of Slow Art Day.
It’s not that we oppose the money-driven art market.
We simply don’t interact with it much.
From time to time they have showed a distant curiosity in us – typically a side glance. And that’s understandable. We don’t create more art buyers.
Instead, we work to create more art lovers (and sure that might create more art buyers, but that would be at most a side effect).
We want to change the reality where, as surveys show, the majority of people do *not* visit an art museum in a given calendar year (with young people being the *least* likely to attend).
So here’s a thought experiment.
What if we took the $17.4 billion spent in the art market this year and applied it instead to buying art museum tickets for first-time visitors. If you assume the average price, when there is a fee, is around $15, then our network of educators and curators at museums all over the world could give those 1.1 billion new visitors a slow looking experience that could help them learn how to look at and love art.
How about that?
As the Washington Post so accurately wrote about us, our movement is radically inclusive. We don’t tell participating museums what to do (except to suggest broad guidelines) and they don’t tell visitors how to interpret what they are looking at (except to suggest guidelines about how to slow down).
We aim to get out of the way and allow the beautiful, emotional, visual, cognitive experience to occur directly between visitor and art.
One of my favorite examples of this comes from the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Watch this short video to see young people slow down and look – and discover the joy of seeing art.
At Slow Art Day, our strength comes from our independence.
We do not rely on funding or support from the established art world.
In fact, because we are volunteer-driven and open source, we have almost no budget and thus no need for dollars from anyone.
Instead, we rely on the hard work of our long-term volunteer team *and* thousands of educators and curators around the world.
And, as you can see in the video above, we, and the many millions of people who look at art, are not passive consumers of art, but active co-creator‘s of the art experience.
In other words, we believe in the radical notion first expressed by Duchamp — that the spectator completes what the artist began.
And we believe the art hanging in museum walls around the world is collectively owned by humanity and humanity can come claim that ownership through the simple act of looking.
More than 1500 museums have participated in our annual Slow Art Day and hundreds of thousands have learned to look at and love art.
Maybe we can make our goal for the 2020s to reach 1 billion new visitors with this radically inclusive program.
Just a thought.
Hope you have a wonderful, slow, and happy holiday season filled with art, the love of art, and the love of the best of who we all are as humans.
– Phyl, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Johanna, Maggie, and Robin
We began our nine-day 2022 Slow Art Day volunteer team retreat by visiting the site of the first test of Slow Art Day: MoMA in New York.
In 2009, Phyl organized four people to visit MoMA and look slowly at five artworks. 13 years and thousands of events later, they returned again with a group of four, but this time it was the dedicated Slow Art Day volunteer team with dresses to match the art.
While looking slowly together in various museums, we decided to use our slow looking algorithm that can be used by small groups anytime all over the world.
Phyl first tried this in 2012 when they took three young brothers to their first art museum with a mother sure they would bounce off the walls and not look — she was shocked when they all slowed down and spent time with the art.
Here’s how it works:
Assign a “selector” in each gallery Choose someone who will select an artwork to look at slowly.
Then everyone looks around for a few minutes While that’s happening, the selector picks their piece.
Look slowly at the chosen piece Spend 5 – 10 minutes looking together at the artwork.
Talk about it Ask: what did you see? Then don’t try to moderate. People will have a lot to say. Let them say it. In fact, this is a wonderful moment. You will get closer to each other as you learn how each other sees and thinks.
Move to the next gallery, choose the next selector, and repeat
That’s it. Really simple. Nothing else required.
Further, if you do this as a group – and if you are dressed up like we were – then you’ll likely draw a crowd whenever you slow down to look at a piece of art intensively. That’s certainly what happened to us. No matter what we looked at, it became a temporary “Starry Night” or “Mona Lisa” with big crowds assembling to figure out why everyone is looking (note: this is a great way to get visitors to pay more attention to less well-known art).
At MoMA, Johanna was the selector for the first gallery we visited. She skipped “Starry Night” and chose Edvard Munch’s “The Storm” (1893). Everyone knows Munch’s “The Scream.” Fewer know “The Storm” and we were glad to bring more attention to this terrific painting.
In our discussion after the slow look, we of course learned more about this artwork and more about each other. Johanna and Jessica Jane are very good close lookers. Meanwhile, Phyl is most sensitive to color, while Ashley’s eye for design picks up composition and texture.
We finished this first session feeling more connected to each other, and to the art.
We then moved to the next gallery, where Jessica Jane was the selector. And so it went as we slowly looked our way through MoMA, the Met, the Whitney, The Barnes Foundation (in Philadelphia), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Special thanks to the educators who hosted us along the way, including:
Bill Perthes, Director of Adult Education at The Barnes Foundation
Linnea West, Manager of Adult Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Greg Stuart, Coordinator of Adult Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Lisa Dombrow, play activist, educator, and volunteer at MoMA and AMNH (and original ‘slow looker’)
We can’t wait for our Summer 2023 Slow Art Day retreat somewhere in the world (if you want us to come visit you and your institution, then let us know!).
We just finished our first ever Slow Art Day team retreat with founder Phyl Terry (U.S.) and global team members Ashley Moran (U.S.), Jessica Jane Nocella (Italy), and Johanna Bokedal (Norway). We came together in New York and Philadelphia for nine days of slow art, friendship, and fun.
We will be posting several reports highlighting our time together at:
MoMA (New York)
The Met (New York)
The Whitney (New York)
The Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia)
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Like happens all over the world with Slow Art Day, looking slowly deepened our ability to see from multiple perspectives, to love art even more, and to create closer bonds of friendship and community with each other.
In the reports that follow, we’ll share what we saw, what we learned, and the simple slow looking algorithm we used at each venue.
Highlights include our coordinated dresses at MoMA, our long conversation and slow looking with the Director of Education at the Barnes Foundation (and a very interesting idea he floated), and our time with the team at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
We are sad to end our retreat.
The good news, though, is we are looking forward to visiting other participating Slow Art Day institutions in future years around the world.
And, we are even beginning to put together a global Slow Art conference in 2025 in partnership with a great art museum (more on that in the next several months).
With much love,
Phyl, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Johanna
P.S. Our longtime global coordinator Maggie Freeman, who is studying for a PhD in Islamic Art & Architecture at MIT, could not join us for this one, but we look forward to future summer retreats with her.
Enuma Okoro, weekly columnist for the Financial Times, wrote a lovely article this week, The joy of living off the clock (gift link – first 20 readers to click will have access), about slowing down for summer and some of the art that reflects that.
In looking slowly at these paintings, Okoro combines her life experience, her work as a curator, her knowledge of art history, and her good eye.
Enjoy her article.
Meanwhile, the Slow Art Day volunteer team is beginning the process of writing up the reports from this year’s event. We will begin publishing soon and through the autumn. Be patient with us as we slowly work our way through all of your great work.
Hope you are having a good and slow May.
P.S. The Slow Art Day HQ team will be slowing down this summer *together*! For the first time, we’ll meet in person (we work via Zoom across continents) and slowly look at art in New York and Philadelphia. We’ll share more about our plans soon in case you want to join us.
Hope you had a wonderful Slow Art Day 2022. We look forward to all of your post-event updates, which we will begin turning into written reports (and publish here throughout the year and then in our annual report at the end of 2022).
But today, on the day after Slow Art Day, I want to share this (lightly edited) message we received from Kyiv and the Khanenko Museum just before this year’s event.
I am Hanna Rudyk, a Deputy Director of Education and Communication at the Khanenko Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The Khanenko Museum (officially: the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko Nationam Museum of Arts), which holds the largest Ukrainian collection of art from around the world, has been a Slow Art Day host for the last three years.
This year we were also planning to host the event in our museum. But Russia’s war against Ukraine prevented us from going forward with these plans. So, we decided instead to switch our Slow Art Day to an online event focused on one artwork. We will show a very rarely exhibited piece of Chinese art and ask our followers to contemplate upon it and share ideas. In the afternoon, we will give time for our curator to add some comments.
I wonder, if our plans could be somehow reflected on the Slow Art Day Official website. We are truly committed to the ideas underlying Slow Art Day and we urgently need now to be more visible and supported.
Below is the artwork they looked at yesterday and the MS Word file they sent last night with the online prompts and some of the comments they received.
Hope you had a wonderful Slow Art Day and wherever you are, you think about our colleagues in Kyiv.
Those of us who love art – and love helping more people learn to look at and love art – we form a global city, and this year one of our neighborhoods is under attack.
Yet, our neighbors still found a way to celebrate Slow Art Day.
They inspire us and have shown us all how to live even in the most difficult moments.
And for that and many other reasons, they deserve *all* of our support and attention.
P.S. Here’s the Word file with their prompts and comments.
Slow Art Day 2022 is happening now all over the world in more than 175 museums, galleries, hospitals, sculpture parks, and other settings.
Plus, many more people are simply finding ways to slow down today.
Check out Instagram for #slowartday to see photos and videos of what’s happening.
I founded Slow Art Day as an antidote to the screen-based fast-paced multi-tasking world we were all creating back in the 2000s (Apple and Facebook were both clients when I first came up with the idea).
If you are an educator, curator, or artist leading slow looking sessions today, then know you are part of a global movement – that as you guide your visitors to slow down, so are many of your peers simultaneously doing the same thing all over the world.
And please take pictures and video. Post with the hashtag #slowartday. And send us your report.
Otherwise, whoever you are, go look at art slowly today.
174 museums, galleries, hospitals, sculpture parks and other venues are hosting slow looking sessions all over the world – from South Africa to Slovenia, Singapore to Serra Negra, Melbourne to Manhattan, Oaxaca to Orléans, Verona to Vilnius, and many, many other places.
Check out the Instagram tag, #slowartday to see what these educators, curators, artists, and art-lovers are doing around the world.
And, most of all, have a happy and *slow* day of looking at and loving art.
With Slow Art Day 2022 just more than a week away, I’m happy to say that the trend of citywide Slow Art Day celebrations continues.
In addition to Bloomington, Illinois and it’s *9* galleries coming together for Slow Art Day, Antwerp, Belgium has *8* museums, galleries and other venues hosting slow looking events this Saturday, April 2.
Meanwhile, London, England has *4* and Naples, Florida has *3* (see this list of venues for all the global sites).
Will we see more such citywide celebrations in future years?
I hope so.
I’m also excited to say that this year for Slow Art Day more than 170 total museums and galleries have registered with us. We know even more events are happening. (Note: If you are hosting a celebration of Slow Art Day and have not registered, then please do so here.)
Eight days left until the world comes together yet again for our annual celebration of the art of looking at and loving art.
Phyl and the Slow Art Day team
P.S. Don’t forget to consult our 2021 Annual Report for ideas on how to design your Slow Art Day sessions this year.